by Rochelle Neidel 

WHILE many organisations are telling their employees to calm down and stay at home, there may be a silver lining for logistics and agriculture industries as the demand for food and basic amenities rise. 

When it comes down to it, large-scale epidemics are not new, and businesses have survived worse. And maintaining excellent supply chain management during a potential epidemic is a necessity for logistics companies.

As farmers and active participants of the growth process of our economy, we should remain resilient but more importantly clued up on every impact created by socio-economic changes caused by a global health scare such as Covid -19. 

Global citizens have been encouraged to avoid social gatherings and,  more importantly, to practise self-isolation to reduce and avoid the further spread of the virus. This has seen many large Namibian companies, sending employees home to work from there, as well as the government cancelling all public events and gatherings.

 These precautionary measures have seen Namibia’s most visited restaurants empty and coffee shops fighting to stay open as most people are avoiding public places.

The coronavirus is drastically changing food consumption in Namibia, and a food delivery giant in the country is witnessing the changes first hand. The IT sector has also capitalised on the opportunities that come with online shopping for food and other basic amenities.

While more and more Namibians self-isolate, most have resorted to stocking up on basic amenities as they want to avoid long-queues, and simply just close contact with others. For farmers that have dreaded the long dry spell, this may be a breakthrough to break even and start making profits again by upscaling on production.

As producers, it is important to note that sales of food have increased, this. This increase is caused by the worldwide panic that the Covid-19 virus could spread faster and possibly destroy livelihoods. In the past weeks many people have rushed to grocery shops to stock up on more food and basic necessities so that they would not have to be forced to leave their homes more frequently. 

For most beef producers and vegetable producers, the demand to produce has increased, due to the surge in sales.

Borders have been closed off for visitors, however, trade between neighbouring countries such a South Africa from which we import the most food remain open. The increase in sales for food and basic needs would create opportunities for the logistics sector as more and more basic amenities would now be imported.

How could the coronavirus affect supply chains? The most basic answer to this question involves the chance for workers in various businesses within the supply chain being ill and unable to work, which could cause inconsistencies in productivity. However, the rise in demand for food would mean more and more logistics companies would have increases in revenue.

When it comes to the supply chains for food and pharmaceutical companies, the coronavirus could have a different effect. Essential medical supplies such as face masks and decongestant medication will be in high demand at the height of an epidemic, putting these supply chains into overdrive. 

Logistics companies are actually very crucial in containing outbreaks for this very reason. A well-managed supply chain with end-to-end visibility will make it possible for medical professionals to respond to affected areas quickly. An ill-managed supply chain could result in delays in equipment or medication delivery, which means a delay in treatment for the virus.

With the coronavirus looming over the world, what was once a seemingly well-organised and managed supply chain could be thrown into emergency mode – and the strategies in place for management may not be as effective as the supply chain businesses think, hence it would be very important to increase risk-management measures.

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